New York to invest $49 million for statewide water infrastructure projects

(UI) – On Thursday, Feb. 15, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the Environmental Facilities Corporation Board of Directors approved over $49 million in direct financial assistance for water infrastructure improvement projects across the state. The Board's approval authorizes municipal access to over $37 million in low-cost short-term financing and previously announced grants to modernize critical drinking water and sewer systems. This infusion of funding will help significantly improve water quality, protect drinking water, and promote economic development in local communities.

The funding includes over $20 million from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). A $13 million grant for the Buffalo Sewer Authority will modernize the 1970s-era secondary treatment system at the Bird Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. This project will increase the facility's capacity to handle intense rain events that can overwhelm Buffalo's combined sewer/stormwater system, and substantially improve water quality in the Niagara River. New York State has already committed $55 million in grants and low-cost financing toward the project, and the BIL grant will enhance this financial assistance and continue to significantly reduce the impact on local ratepayers.

In addition to Buffalo, grant and interest-free financing packages were approved with BIL funding to support essential projects in the Town of Herman in St. Lawrence County and the Town of Lyons in Wayne County. Previously announced State grants were also approved for projects in these two communities, including funds from the 2022 Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act for Lyons.

The Board's approvals include financings through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF)and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), and grants already announced pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvement (WIIA) and Intermunicipal Grant (IMG) programs. BIL funding for water and sewer infrastructure is administered by EFC through the State Revolving Funds.

Sewer/wastewater infrastructure projects include:

Buffalo Sewer Authority, Erie County (Western NY) - $13,869,533 grant from BIL general supplemental funds for the planning, design, and construction of secondary treatment upgrades at the Bird Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Town of Caneadea, Allegany County (Western NY) - $430,000 WIIA grant for the planning, design, and construction of a disinfection system at the town's wastewater treatment plant.

Town of Hume, Allegany County (Western NY) - $2,448,000 short-term interest-free financing, $1,000,000 short-term market-rate financing and an $816,000 WIIA grant for the planning, design, and construction of a pump station and force main in the town.

Town of Lyons, Wayne County (Finger Lakes) - $804,655 short-term interest-free financing and $2,100,000 grant from BIL general supplemental funds, and an $804,655 WIIA grant from Environmental Bond Act funds for the planning, design, and construction of improvements to the town's wastewater treatment plant.

Village of Mount Kisco, Westchester County (Mid-Hudson) - $2,375,000 WIIA grant for the planning, design, and construction of improvements to the Saw Mill Pump Station and replacement of the Branch Brook Trunk Sewer.

Drinking water projects include:

Village of Franklinville, Cattaraugus County (Western NY) - $1,191,800 short-term market-rate financing and a $2,850,000 WIIA grant for improvements to the village's north and south wellhouses, as well as replacement of approximately 30,000 linear feet of watermains.

Town of Hermon, St. Lawrence County (North Country) - $1,988,850 short-term interest-free financing and $1,640,650 grant from BIL general supplemental funds; $423,500 short-term interest-free financing and $847,000 short-term market-rate financing from base CWSRF, as well as a $3,000,000 WIIA grant for the development of new Spring No. 5, installation of a redundant transmission main from the springs to the water treatment plant, improvements to the water treatment plant, installation of individual water meters and replacement of all distribution mains in Water District No. 1, totaling approximately 25,000 linear feet.

Niagara County Water District, Niagara County (Western NY) - $1,245,750 WIIA grant for the replacement of the water treatment plant's one-million-gallon wash water tank.

The Board also approved long-term interest-free financing totaling $11 million for three existing projects. Short-term financing provides capital for design and construction of projects. Once project construction is completed, the short-term financing is typically refinanced to long-term financing for up to 30 years, saving municipalities significant interest expenses versus financing on their own.

Projects approved for long-term interest-free financing include the Village of Ilion in Herkimer County (Mohawk Valley), the Village of Medina in Orleans County (Finger Lakes), and the City of Utica in Oneida County (Mohawk Valley).

New York State continues to increase investments in water infrastructure, including $325 million in grant opportunities made available in January. With Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget’s proposed $500 million over two years, New York will have invested a total of $5.5 billion in water infrastructure since 2017. This funding complements Governor Hochul’s State of the State initiative to increase water infrastructure grants for small rural communities from 25 to 50 percent of net eligible project costs to help support smaller communities.

To leverage these investments and ensure ongoing coordination with local governments, the Governor expanded EFC’s Community Assistance Teams to help small, rural, and disadvantaged communities leverage this funding and address their clean water infrastructure needs.

The funding is in addition to other substantial water quality investments, including the voter-approved $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022 which is advancing historic levels of funding to update aging water infrastructure and protect water quality, strengthen communities' ability to withstand severe storms and flooding, reduce air pollution and lower climate-altering emissions, restore habitats, and preserve outdoor spaces and local farms.

The first round of funding under the Environmental Bond Act was awarded through the WIIA/IMG programs in December, when Governor Hochul announced $479 million in grants to 156 projects across New York State. Disadvantaged Communities will receive at least 35 percent of the benefits of Bond Act funding, with a goal of 40 percent.

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